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Self and other body perception in anorexia nervosa: The role of posterior DMN nodes

posted on 2016-11-22, 11:42 authored by Esther Via, Ximena Goldberg, Isabel Sánchez, Laura Forcano, Ben J. Harrison, Christopher G. Davey, Jesús Pujol, Ignacio Martínez-Zalacaín, Fernando Fernández-Aranda, Carles Soriano-Mas, Narcís Cardoner, José M. Menchón

Objectives: Body image distortion is a core symptom of anorexia nervosa (AN), which involves alterations in self- (and other’s) evaluative processes arising during body perception. At a neural level, self-related information is thought to rely on areas of the so-called default mode network (DMN), which, additionally, shows prominent synchronised activity at rest.

Methods: Twenty female patients with AN and 20 matched healthy controls were scanned using magnetic resonance imaging when: (a) viewing video clips of their own body and another's body; (b) at rest. Between-group differences within the DMN during task performance were evaluated and further explored for task-related and resting-state-related functional connectivity alterations.

Results: AN patients showed a hyperactivation of the dorsal posterior cingulate cortex during their own-body processing but a response failure to another’s body processing at the precuneus and ventral PCC. Increased task-related connectivity was found between dPCC–dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and precuneus–mid-temporal cortex. Further, AN patients showed decreased resting-state connectivity between the dPCC and the angular gyrus.

Conclusions: The PCC and the precuneus are suggested as key components of a network supporting self–other-evaluative processes implicated in body distortion, while the existence of DMN alterations at rest might reflect a sustained, task-independent breakdown within this network in AN.


This study was supported in part by the Carlos III Health Institute [PI08/1549, PI 11/210, PI14/290] and FEDER funds: ‘A way to build Europe’. Dr. Via was supported by an Endeavour Research Fellowship, provided by Australian government, the Department of Education [I.D. 3993_2014] and a Río Hortega fellowship, provided by the Carlos III Health Institute [CM15/00083]. Dr. Goldberg is supported by a Sara Borrell grant from the Carlos III Health Institute [I.D. CD13/00282]. A/Prof. Harrison is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Clinical Career Development Fellowship [I.D. 628509]. Dr. Davey is supported by a NHMRC Clinical Career Development Fellowship [I.D. 1061757]. Dr. Soriano-Mas is funded by a ‘Miguel Servet’ contract from the Carlos III Health Institute [I.D. CP10/00604]. CIBERSAM and CIBEROBN are both initiatives of ISCIII.


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